Planchette

Peter Suchin


Vic Browne, Mik Godley (with Graham Lester George), Matt Hale, Lee Holden, Lizzie Hughes, Liane Lang, Stephen Lee, Pat Naldi, Sarah Sparkes, Jo Stockham

This exhibition takes its name from the curious device known as a planchette or "talking-board", a small heart-shaped structure mounted on wheels, beneath which projects a pencil or other instrument for drawing or writing. Placed upon a sheet of paper and propelled, apparently, by supernatural forces, the activated planchette traces images, scribbles inconclusively or perhaps inscribes a coherent series of words, to which the operator, whose finger rests lightly upon the board, responds. A dialogue thus ensues between the communicating spirit "speaking" through the medium of the operator, and the operator himself.

In employing the planchette as a metaphor for artistic practice a complicated, indeed contradictory structure of exchange is encouraged and implied. Such analogies do not, however, rely on an acceptance of the planchette's original purpose or necessitate an acceptance of the "spirit world" as conventionally defined.

Each of the artists in the exhibition has responded to the essay "Engaging Textual Spectres" by Peter Suchin (Miser & Now, No, 7, 2005), a discussion of Harry Price's The End of Borley Rectory (Harrap, 1946), in which Price documents his researches into what has been described as ""the most haunted house in England"" (p. 15). As a consequence of publishing this essay Suchin was invited to take part in Spectre vs. Rector, curated by Marc Vaulbert de Chantilly at The Residence, London, in 2007. Suchin chose to insert into this large group show a second, smaller exhibition, in effect carrying out an act of spectral or demonic possession upon the host project. The inclusion of Planchette within No Letters at Nettie Horn, London (2008) was its second presentation.

Staged within a portable, self-contained display mechanism or "Pagivolt", donated by the Jeffrey Charles Henry Peacock Gallery, Planchette is simultaneously reliant upon, and independent of the exhibition in which it resides. The artists' contributions of ten individual works presented within the Pagivolt are supplemented by an equal number of curatorial insertions, the whole emphasising complexity, ambiguity and intertextuality, as well as a critical engagement with the spontaneous, the hidden and the repressed.

Planchette is presented under the rubric Black Box.


This text is closely based on the original press release (2007) for Planchette, written by Peter Suchin. The video recording was made by Pat Naldi at Suchin's apartment in London on Thursday, 10th January, 2008.


Planchette image sequence

Anonymous, drawing of a planchette, details of original unknown, Internet download, October 2007 Peter Suchin, Pascale Lines, digital image, 1999

Vic Browne, Cartesian Discourse, polymergravure print, 2007 Roland Barthes, Ellen-iras, details of original unknown, Internet download, 2007. The work is reproduced under the heading Contre-ecriture in Georges Jean, Writing: The Story of Alphabets and Scripts, New Horizons, 1992, p. 198.

Sarah Sparkes, Never Afraid, paint and collage, 2007 Lee Holden, Sabotage, digital print, 2007

Dan Karavan, Passages (monument to Walter Benjamin, Port Bou, Spain), 1994, Archivo Zerkowitz (undated postcard) Matthew Paris, detail from the frontispiece to The Prognostics of Socrates the King (c.13th), Bodleian Library, Oxford (undated postcard)

Matt Hale, Loss Pipe, spray paint on paper, 2007 David Gill, Photograph of the Great September Comet of 1882, reproduced from Roberta J M Olson, Fire and Ice: A History of Comets in Art, Walker, 1985, p. 75.

Mik Godley (with Graham Lester George), Der Korridor Geist, giclŽe print (artists' proof for an edition of 10), 2007 Pat Naldi, Skeleton Map, digital print, 1970s/2007

Liane Lang, Noctum, photographic print, 2007 Roland Barthes, page from Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse: Fragments, Hill and Wang, 1981 (p. 171)

Peter Suchin, The Name on the Frame, ink and collage on magazine pages. 2007

Jo Stockham, "Trust in the you of now", Landscape, digital print, reflective film, 2007 Lizzie Hughes, Vowel Drawing, ink on printed page, 2007

Blank page Stephen Lee, Le Tombeau d'Edgar Poe, acrylic, graphite, chalk, charcoal on paper, 2007